Michigan State Needs More From Miles Bridges

Posted by Chris Hatfield on November 23rd, 2017

By many accounts, Michigan State sophomore Miles Bridges should no longer be in college. The body, the athleticism, the talent — it’s all there and screams one-and-done. That’s why so many observers were shocked when Bridges opted to forgo the NBA Draft over the summer. Never mind that now, though. It’s in the past. He is here and we have arrived at a point of pristine clarity. Whether fair or not, anything other than a 2018 National Championship for Michigan State will be viewed as a disappointment. Tom Izzo‘s seething six-word response of “I’m sick of holding my own” and discussion of embarrassment after losing to consensus #1 Duke last week at the Champions Classic make that obvious. The Spartans, however, will not get there without more production from their superstar. That’s not necessarily a statistical knock on him — after all, he’s nearly averaging a double-double with 19.5 PPG and 7.5 rebounds per game. You have to dig a little deeper, and Izzo hinted at it: “When they [Duke] were so good, a senior rose up.” Indeed.

Miles Bridges is Fantastic but He Needs to Take Over at the End (USA Today Images)

This may seem harsh. We have limited data points but an initial review is quite revealing. With 3:24 remaining in last week’s Duke game, everything was knotted up and Duke held possession of the ball. From that point, senior All-American Grayson Allen scored eight of Duke’s final 13 points while his counterpart Bridges only took two shots and scored a single meaningless bucket. That can’t happen in those spots. He can’t shy away from shouldering the weight of performing during crunch time.  He can’t defer to others. He’s too special and the Spartans don’t have a better alternative. They didn’t for Mateen Cleaves, a Spartan who put the team on his shoulders whenever necessary on the way to delivering Izzo his only National Championship. “The experienced guys have to take over at the end and let the freshmen fall behind us,” Bridges told the Big Ten Network after the game.

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Savon the Savior: Goodman’s Breakout is Arizona State’s Good Fortune

Posted by Mike Lemaire on December 12th, 2015

During Arizona State’s mini-resurgence, fans and media members alike have been quick to credit new coach Bobby Hurley for injecting energy and passion into his team’s play. All of that credit may very well be deserved, but it is actually one of the players Hurley inherited who has been the most influential in the Sun Devils’ surprising success. Savon Goodman may be the most athletic player in the country that only diehard basketball fans know about, but that may not last much longer. The 6’6″, 220-pound junior leads the team in scoring (13.4 PPG) and rebounding (8.3 RPG) and has been at his best against good opponents like NC State (21 points and 16 rebounds) and Creighton (23 points and seven rebounds). Goodman’s best attributes (size, physicality, energy) fit perfectly with the team identity that Hurley is trying to forge and his breakout has meant that a Sun Devils’ team that was hastily written off after a season-opening loss to Sacramento State is now back the fringes of the national conversation heading into today’s nationally-televised showdown with Kentucky.

Savon Goodman's Intensity Is What Makes Him So Good

Savon Goodman’s Intensity Is What Makes Him So Good

What makes Goodman’s emergence as a borderline star particularly inspiring is that his road to success has been a long and circuitous one. It’s not as if Goodman was an unheralded recruit who has made the most of his limited abilities. The Philadelphia native first turned heads during the summer of 2010 thanks to a string of dominant performances on the AAU and camp circuit and by November he was considered a five-star prospect and was committed to Villanova. But things were complicated behind the scenes as rumors swirled about his academic standing and whether the Wildcats were really all that interested in him after all. Although the rumors were never confirmed, they received a dose of credibility when Goodman switched high schools for his senior season and de-committed from the Wildcats in August of 2011. Still, Goodman dominated his senior season of high school, leading his new team to the PIAA state and Philadelphia Public League titles and committed to UNLV as questions about whether he would qualify eventually faded away. Read the rest of this entry »

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Big Ten M5: 02.18.15 Edition

Posted by Brendan Brody on February 18th, 2015


  1. With injuries to Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton, Michigan has gotten inexperienced very quickly. While the team’s freshmen and sophomores have shown signs that they could become heavy contributors at some point in the future, the young Wolverines are going through some growing pains right now. This mostly manifests itself on the defensive end of the floor and was quite evident in Michigan’s loss to Michigan State on Tuesday night. The Spartans shot 62.0 percent from the field and did so by seemingly scoring at will in the paint and through second-chance buckets. The Wolverines tried multiple defenses to slow down Sparty, but in the end they had no way of corralling the inside-outside combination of Branden Dawson and Travis Trice.
  2. It was mentioned in this space on Monday morning that Penn State head coach Pat Chambers wasn’t too happy with a late call against Jordan Dickerson in his team’s Saturday loss to Maryland. He’s now been publicly reprimanded for his comments on the game’s officiating and Penn State has been fined $10,000 as a result. Chambers was also frustrated with the fact that the Terps’ Melo Trimble managed to get to the free throw line 12 times in the game. The Nittany Lions have been plagued by foul trouble in many of their games this season — it’s obvious that Chambers doesn’t think his team is getting a fair shake.
  3. The Michigan State-Michigan game last night had some famous recent alumni in attendance due to this year’s extended NBA All-Star break. Draymond Green and Nik Stauskas were in Ann Arbor for the festivities and they had some entertaining social media discussion in advance of the rivalry game. It’s looking like Stauskas will be donning some green in the near future after his Wolverines lost to Sparty at home for the first time since 2010.
  4. Indiana added another player to the mix last week when football player Jordan Fuchs joined the roster. The 6’6″ tight end from New York City was good enough to have received a basketball scholarship offer from Iowa State, among other Division I programs, coming out of high school. Fuchs gives the Hoosiers some additional depth on the bench in anticipation of Purdue’s bulk in Thursday night’s game. He played two minutes in the Hoosiers’ win over Minnesota on Sunday, but he didn’t register any meaningful statistics. It will be worth noting whether this addition pans out for the team, as by all accounts the New York native was a legitimate high school prospect in both sports.
  5. ESPN’s latest bubble watch now only has two Big Ten teams listed as locks for the NCAA Tournament. Maryland joins Wisconsin as the two most probable entries with Indiana close to sewing things up. Ohio State, Michigan State, Illinois, Iowa and Purdue fall into the category of “still having work left to do.” It’s looking right now like the league will get as many as seven teams into the tourney, which means that someone from the group with work to do could end up on the outside looking in. Purdue has the most non-conference damage for which to compensate while Iowa way be in the midst of another late-season collapse. The next three weeks of Big Ten action will definitely be worth monitoring.
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Big Ten Award Spotlight: Does Denzel Valentine Deserve Recognition?

Posted by Brendan Brody on February 20th, 2014

The phrase “glue guy” is used almost to the point of it being a cliche. It’s thrown around by announcers almost every game to describe players, many of whom simply aren’t very good or have much of a lasting impact. Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine has been neither of those things this season: He’s been very good in his sophomore campaign, and he has made a significant and necessary impact for the 21-5 Spartans. He’s been the almost-literal definition of a glue guy, as he’s one of only two Michigan State players to have played in all 26 games during an injury-riddled season for a team that still has a chance to make the Final Four in Arlington and cut down the nets. But has he done enough to merit all-Big Ten consideration?

Denzel Valentine has been stuffing the stat sheet all season long for Michigan State. (Eric Gay, AP)

Denzel Valentine has been stuffing the stat sheet all season long for Michigan State. (Eric Gay, AP)

Before laying out the case statistically for Valentine and his impact, here’s a comparison to consider:

  • Player A: 25.5 MPG, 9.9 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.9 BPG
  • Player B: 29.0 MPG, 7.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Player A is Draymond Green’s sophomore numbers, and player B is Denzel Valentine’s sophomore numbers. As you can see, they aren’t all that different. Green played more out of the post, but both players have filled similar roles early in their careers. Neither were asked to score, but they were both counted on by Tom Izzo to distribute the ball, hit the glass, and defend their butts off. Green was named to the all-Big Ten third team in his sophomore season, so it’s not all that far-fetched that Valentine would earn similar recognition this season. Consider his impact: He’s currently the only player to rank in the league’s top 10 in both rebounds and assists; he’s in the top 20 in steals (13th); and he’s fifth with a 2:1 assist to turnover rate. Whether his numbers are a bit inflated because of how many players Michigan State has had injured is irrelevant — his level of production is still quite solid.

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Big Ten M5: 02.01.13 Edition

Posted by KTrahan on February 1st, 2013


  1. Before the season, Keith Appling wasn’t even a Michigan State captain. Tom Izzo was looking at the veteran point guard to become a leader on an off the court for the Spartans, who had lost last year’s emotional leader Draymond Green. Appling has now earned captain status and Izzo has noticed a big change from his junior point guard. Izzo said Appling is doing a better job of communicating on the floor and showing his confidence after sitting down with former MSU point guard Mateen Cleaves. Appling learned to fight through adversity after a rough past, and now he’s doing it on the court, becoming the leader Izzo had hoped for at the beginning of the season.
  2. Ohio State has had trouble finding players outside of Deshaun Thomas, Sam Thompson and Aaron Craft to step up this season. The Buckeyes certainly have talent, but its supporting players — Shannon Scott, Amir Williams and LaQuinton Ross, to name a few — haven’t been consistent. That has resulted in inconsistent playing time among that bunch. OSU has been searching for an alternative offensive option to Thompson and it appears it may have found its answer in Ross. Ross has seen the court much more recently, and part of that is due to his improved listening to coach Thad Matta. He’s taking in more direction from the coaching staff, and subsequently seeing more of the floor.
  3. There aren’t many legitimate criticisms of No. 1 Michigan right now, considering how the Wolverines have been playing. However, people are always trying to find something wrong with top teams, so the common criticism of UM in recent weeks is that its roster isn’t deep enough. After all, the Wolverines rank 326th in the country in bench minutes, according to Ken Pomeroy. But part of the reason the Wolverines don’t go to their bench much is that the starters have played so well. Now though, in the wake of Jordan Morgan’s injury, Michigan is proving that it has enough depth. Jon Horford started the Wolverines’ game against Northwestern earlier this week and gave his team solid minutes, while freshman Mitch McGary also played well. Michigan may not have a star big man, but its frontcourt has proven it can play well this year, even without Morgan manning the paint.
  4. The press has been Minnesota’s best friend and its worst enemy this season. After struggling with its execution earlier in non-conference play, the Gophers’ press worked very well against Nebraska, returning to the form we saw during the non-conference season. Minnesota struggled to press against teams that like to slow things down like Northwestern and Wisconsin, but the Gophers were able to be successful against Nebraska, which employs the same tempo strategy. The bigger issue against the Wildcats and Badgers was their failure to execute in other areas of the game, such as free throw shooting. That prevented the Gophers from ever going all out with the press in those contests.
  5. It’s tough to find a bright spot out of a 97-60 loss, especially a home loss to your rival when coming off a solid win. However, Purdue’s A.J. Hammons was a bright spot for the Boilermakers in their drubbing at the hands of Indiana earlier this week. Hammons was a highly-touted recruit coming out of high school, but like most freshman big men, he has been inconsistent in his first college season. However, he was exceptional against Indiana, scoring 30 points and blocking five shots in 28 minutes, showing the potential we’re likely to see from him down the road. While he didn’t get much help against the Hoosiers, his consistency will be key to how Purdue finishes its season.
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RTC Top 25: Preseason Edition

Posted by KDoyle on November 9th, 2012

And so it begins. The time of year where we hear familiar voices on the television, faces on the floor, and our teams finally playing games that count in the standings. It is a beautiful time, indeed. With the games commencing in mere hours, we officially unveil RTC’s Preseason Top 25. In the future, you can expect our poll to come out every Monday morning. Along with the rankings will be the usual quick ‘n dirty analysis that takes a deeper dive into how the teams shake out #1-#25. To see how we did last year, check out our 2011-12 preseason poll—some right on the money (North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio State), and others not so much (Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M). The QnD after the jump…


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Where 2012-13 Happens: Reason #5 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on November 5th, 2012

And away we go, headfirst into another season heralded by our 2012-13 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season 100% guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. We’ve captured here what we believe were the most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back the goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head. The entire series from #30 to this point can be viewed hereEnjoy!

#5 – Where Messed Around and Got a Triple Double Happens

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-12 seasons.

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Big Ten Weekly Five: 07.18.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on July 18th, 2012

  1. Who doesn’t love a good list? We all do. The Big Lead takes a crack at the putting together a compilation of the 50 best players in college basketball heading into the 2012-13 campaign. It’s an early prognosis, sure, but which Big Ten players would you have on that list? Indiana’s Cody Zeller and Michigan’s Trey Burke are likely choices, right? Who, if anyone, from the other defending Big Ten co-champions Ohio State or Michigan State should be on the list? How about Christian Watford? Trevor Mbakwe? Deshaun Thomas? See for yourself and debate amongst yourselves.
  2. Michigan coach John Beilein says he’s not out to recruit one-and-done players and it seems one of his best players is backing him up. Tim Hardaway, Jr. told the Detroit Free Press he’d like to model his game after former Michigan State star and rival Draymond Green. The former Spartan was, of course, one of the most versatile players in recent Big Ten memory, but he was also a four-year player who had a steady progression over his time in East Lansing and put together a remarkable career that has also led to the NBA.
  3. Speaking of Green, replacing him will be one of the toughest tasks for the defending conference champion Spartans. They certainly won’t have one player who can step in and do it, so it will fall on the shoulders of an ensemble cast that includes centers Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix. The two have tremendous skill sets, but on entirely different ends of the spectrum. Payne is a taller, leaner and much more athletic big man, while Nix is a more big-bodied traditional frontcourt player. Their different styles gave teams fit last season, and Payne especially says he’s looking to step up to fill Michigan State’s frontcourt void.
  4. After a 2011-12 season that saw him foul out of seven games and rack up four or more fouls in 19 contests, Iowa’s Zach McCabe is hoping to put those bruising days behind him this year. The rising junior played out of position last year, banging down low with players in the conference who were bigger than him and he paid the price. He started 30 contests for the Hawkeyes and is hoping to combine that experience with some offseason work that will allow him to succeed in that same position next year while incorporating some of his own game and making opponents come to him.
  5. This time comes but just once every four years — the Olympics. One of the biggest draws of the summer games is basketball, and of course Team USA. We’ve heard plenty over the last few years about the Dream Team, the Redeem Team and so on and so forth, but which Big Ten players would fill out an Olympic basketball roster from the Big Ten Network era (2007-12)? Brent Yarina at BTN.com takes a crack at it. You might be surprised.
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Big Ten Summer Check In: Michigan State Spartans

Posted by jnowak on July 12th, 2012

Tom Izzo knows what the summer means. The legendary Michigan State coach always talks about how valuable the hottest months of the year can be. For one, it gives him the chance to get out and evaluate recruits to lay the groundwork for the future of the program. But back on campus, it’s when players develop and grow — both physically and psychologically — in preparation for next year. Whatever he’s got them doing, it’s worked masterfully over the years. Here’s our Summer Check In with the defending Big Ten champion Spartans:

Is Keith Appling ready to step in and fill the void Draymond Green will leave behind? (AP Photo)

  • Evaluating Last Year: Michigan State is one of those programs that you can never count out, no matter what the pundits believe at the beginning of the season. MSU entered the year without Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers, eacah of whom left a huge scoring void (Lucas, especially) but many were left wondering if the chemistry of the club changed with addition by subtraction. There were plenty of questions, particularly when Delvon Roe announced his early retirement, and the team lost its first two games of the season. Then All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year Draymond Green grabbed the reins and put the team on his back, leading the Spartans to another Big Ten Championship and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They fell short of reaching another Final Four, but when all was said and done, it could have very well been Izzo’s best work yet. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big Ten Weekly Five: 07.05.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on July 5th, 2012

  1. There’s been plenty of chatter over the last few weeks about the former Big Ten players headed for the NBA, but what about those who chose to stay behind? The biggest of those names is probably Cody Zeller, who opted to remain at Indiana for his sophomore season. A good choice? Brent Yarina from BTN.com seems to think so. The best way to make this call is to consider his ceiling and also to consider how much worse things could get. He could get hurt, like any player, or his additional time in college could give scouts time to pick him apart. But more time in college also allows a young player to mature, for him to grow into a body more suited for the NBA and for him to raise his draft stock (yes, that’s right, stock can also go up). There’s no way he would have gone No. 1 this year. But right now, there’s a great chance he’ll go No. 1 next year. Seems like a good choice.
  2. Speaking of the NBA Draft, here’s a nice one-stop-shop from the fine folks at Big Ten Powerhouse with all the information you need about the Big Ten hoopsters — Draymond Green, Meyers Leonard, Robbie Hummel and Jared Sullinger — who are moving on to the professional ranks. All of these guys have something to prove. Green dropped further than many predicted but, as he said, it just wouldn’t be right if he didn’t have to work his tail off just a little while longer (and same goes for Hummel, who’s had to work as hard as anybody to get back to this level). Many questioned Sullinger’s health heading into the draft, and Leonard’s production at Illinois led many to doubt his potential. Only time will tell.
  3. Northwestern didn’t have anybody taken in the NBA Draft, but the Wildcats did make an important addition for their future. It landed a huge commitment from Jaren Sina, a four-star point guard from New Jersey. Sina could be the biggest recruiting coup for Bill Carmody in his time as a head coach there. A second-team All-State selection in New Jersey as a junior last season, Sina averaged 20 PPG and 8.4 APG while shooting 42.9% from three-point range. Is he the guy who can finally lead Northwestern to the NCAA Tournament? Stay tuned. But while the Wildcats have had excellent forwards over the last few years, it’s been a while since an elite point guard came their way.
  4. Michigan coach John Beilein knows a thing about recruiting coups, having brought in some top young talent (see: Tim Hardaway, Jr., Trey Burke) over the last four years with headliner Mitch McGary on the horizon for next season. Despite this recent success, Beilein says his recruiting philosophy has not changed, but he admits the scenarios are changing. “(In recruiting) you have to pick your battles,” Beilein told AnnArbor.com. “The battles we’re choosing, they may be a little larger.” Michigan has largely been most successful taking its recruiting out of state, since Michigan State and Tom Izzo has had a strong handle on the Mitten State for more than a decade (that was re-affirmed last week with the commitment of two-sport star Drake Harris). Every coach will tell you in-state recruiting is crucial, but who is to argue with the success Beilein has had at UM?
  5. Here’s a bit of unexpected news that really shouldn’t surprise anybody: Aaron Craft, already known as one of the conference’s premier tough guys, has been playing since high school with a floating bone chip in his left ankle. “If he turned the ankle wrong just a certain way, that small piece of bone would get jammed back on his tibia and it would cause excruciating pain,” Craft’s father, John, told the Columbus Dispatch. The Ohio State point guard had surgery June 18 to remove the chip, and has been in a cast and on crutches since then but is expected to soon begin rehabilitation and be “full go” in 3-4 weeks. I can’t imagine any doubt that he’ll fully heal and get back to the same level we’re used to. In fact, if he’s been reaching that level this entire time, I think it’s safe to say he’ll be even better.
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